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Pittsburgh Perspectives  

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Friday, May 22, 2020  10:00 AM  (36)

April nonfarm jobs data: Pittsburgh region employment declined by 185,600 over previous month

April jobs data released today shows a sharp decline in employment across the Pittsburgh region. Total nonfarm jobs in the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) declined by 185,600 between March and April 2020.  Total nonfarm jobs in the Pittsburgh region dropped to 990,000, compared to 1,175,600 in March 2020, and 1,194,500 in April 2019. Compared to year ago levels, total nonfarm jobs in the Pittsburgh region have declined by 204,500 compared to April 2019, or a decline of 17.1%.

Data here is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Current Employment Statistics (CES).  The CES program produces detailed industry estimates of nonfarm employment, hours, and earnings of workers on payrolls. Each month, CES surveys approximately 145,000 businesses and government agencies, representing approximately 697,000 individual worksites.

The regional decline of 204,500 jobs between April 2019 and April 2020 is by far the largest year-over-year decline in regional jobs in the CES data available back to 1990. The rate of job loss is also significantly larger than employment declines the Pittsburgh region experienced during the early 1980s when employment in heavy industries contracted sharply. Regional labor force data estimates that the largest year-over-year decline in employment in the Pittsburgh region was between March 1982 and March 1983 when employment declined by 84,100 jobs.

Employment declines extended across all major industry sectors in the region. The largest percentage decline in regional jobs were in Leisure and Hospitality industries which contracted by 57.5% compared to year-ago levels. Construction jobs declined to 37,400 in April, a decline of 24,400 or -39.5% compared to year-ago levels. Only employment in financial and related industries remained stable, with a slight decline of 1,500 jobs compared to March 2020, but a slight increase in jobs compared to April 2019. 

Change in Nonfarm Jobs by Industry Sector, Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area - April 2019 to April 2020

Industry April 2019 April 2020 Change April 2019 to April 2020
Mining 12,200 10,500 -1,700 -13.9%
Construction 61,800 37,400 -24,400 -39.5%
Manufacturing 87,400 79,100 -8,300 -9.5%
Transportation, Trade, Utilities 206,000 171,000 -35,000 -17.0%
Information 19,000 17,600 -1,400 -7.4%
Financial Activities 75,700 76,700 1,000 1.3%
Professional and Business Services 183,800 170,000 -13,800 -7.5%
Education and Health Services 263,200 229,200 -34,000 -12.9%
Leisure and Hospitality 118,900 50,500 -68,400 -57.5%
Other Services 49,400 33,900 -15,500 -31.4%
Government 117,100 114,100 -3,000 -2.6%
Total 1,194,500 990,000 -204,500 -17.1%

Monthly CES data reflects employment data for one reference week during the month. The reference week for monthly employment data in the CES typically reflects the week that includes the 12th of each month.  For March 2020, the reference week for CES employment data was the week of March 8-14, which was before a large part of business shutdowns were implemented. For April 2020, the reference week was April 12-18, by which time large scale business shutdowns across Pennsylvania had taken effect.

Depressed employment and historic unemployment levels are expected to be reported through May. The reference week for May employment data was May 10-16 which was before most restrictions of business activities were lifted in Western Pennsylvania. As of the week ending May 16, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor reports that there were 199,713 continuing claims for Unemployment Insurance (UI) compensation. For comparison, there were only 2,402 continuing UI claims in the Pittsburgh MSA at the end of February 2020.

Also today, labor force data and estimates of April unemployment rates for states were released.  The preliminary unemployment rate for Pennsylvania in April increased to 15.1%, up from 5.8% in March. Note that labor force and unemployment rate estimates for the Pittsburgh metropolitan area have not been released yet. Metropolitan area unemployment rate estimates for April are scheduled to be released on June 2.

This post will be updated. 





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